Owning a dog has a lot of health benefits, but here’s one that surprised me. According to an article in Time, it appears that a little dog dust may protect kids from a common respiratory virus that can lead to asthma.
Working with mice, the scientists found that exposure to house dust from homes with a pet appeared to protect the mice against a common virus called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which infects the lungs and breathing passages and is a major cause of respiratory illness in young children. (In adults, it usually causes run-of-the-mill cold symptoms.) Severe infections in infancy are linked with an increased risk of developing respiratory problems like asthma later on.
And here’s the kicker – it’s not breathing dog dust that helps, it’s eating it.
The researchers then examined the microbes living in the protected animals’ guts, and found that the types of bacteria they harbored were different and more diverse than the bugs in the RSV-infected animals guts.
What do gut bugs have to do with asthma? Potentially a lot. Researchers are discovering that the microbiome, as it’s known — the vast community of good bacteria and viruses that live in and on the human body, including in the intestines — not only play a vital role in basic bodily functions like digesting food, producing vitamins and fending off infection, but may also contribute to the development of chronic conditions and diseases like obesity, cancer and asthma.
You can read the whole article here: Why having a dog may keep kids asthma free.
I have to issue a warning: Chihuahuas, while my favorite dog breed, are not suitable for small children. To a Chi, a grabby toddler is like a cross between Godzilla and a threshing machine.